Who, What, Why: Penn Medicine associate director Danielle Cavalcanto

Cavalcanto has recently been recognized for her contributions that significantly advance the development of sustainable purchasing at Penn.

Danielle Cavalcanto surrounded by furniture.
Danielle Cavalcanto is the associate director, interiors with the Perelman School of Medicine.
    • Who

      A talented interior designer, Danielle Cavalcanto instills sustainable factors in her designs, frequently matching inventory in storage to newly configured workspaces. In the 2022 fiscal year, her reuse of Penn Medicine furniture saved more than $230,000. She also participated in specifying $3 million in sustainable furniture selections as well as approximately $1 million of sustainable finishes within most of the $28 million budget for capital projects in the 2022 fiscal year.

      “Whether it’s a capital project or a small-scale one, I work to ensure these projects meet or exceed the sustainability standards we’ve set at the Perelman School of Medicine,” says Cavalcanto, an associate director, interiors, at the Perelman School of Medicine. “For example, if I’m asked to reconfigure a space such as a lab, I will identify which components can be repurposed or reused and which can be recycled. No day is the same—there’s a new, exciting challenge to tackle each day.”

      Her work has led to sustainably sourced products for more than 14% of Penn Medicine’s total capital purchases in the 2022 fiscal year.

    • What

      Penn’s 2022 Green Purchasing Awards, presented by Penn Procurement Services and Penn Sustainability, were announced in December of 2022. These noteworthy accomplishments align with Penn’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0, the University’s comprehensive strategic roadmap for environmental sustainability.

      Cavalcanto is being honored for her outstanding contributions to projects in which she brings her expertise in planning and knowledge of sustainable practices to advance initiatives that support Penn Medicine’s research and academic community, says Maureen Ward, senior director facilities and capital planning at the School of Medicine.

      “Danielle’s dedication to sustainable design, recycling, and creative reuse of existing resources is her passion,” Ward says. “She is an amazing resource who shares her expertise generously with our staff, Penn colleagues, and consultants, which, in turn, extends her positive influence exponentially.”

    • Why

      Among Cavalcanto’s other accomplishments are spearheading Penn Medicine’s e-waste collections and larger lab-clearing efforts. She also helped review the school’s lab-clearing process, culminating in a web-based resource utilized across Penn Medicine.

      “Sustainability is as much of a professional passion as it is a personal one,” Cavalcanto says. “I’ve always loved ‘upcycling’ old furniture that my grandparents owned or finding ways to reduce my plastic waste. So, I love that I can use my passion and expertise to help create a more sustainable future for Penn as well as the broader community.”